Zynga debuts own games platform

Social games developer unveils Zynga.com site for users to play its games and other titles made by third-party developers, in bid to rely less on Facebook.

Social games company Zynga has unveiled its own platform on which users can play its games and other titles from third-party developers, outside of Facebook, as it moves to rely less on the social networking giant.

"We built Zynga.com to give our players more ways to connect with each other and play great social games whether built by Zynga or other talented developers," Mark Pincus, the company's founder and CEO, said in a statement late-Thursday. "Together with our platform partners, we look forward to bringing more play to the world on our platform."

Since last October, Zynga had dropped hints about a "Project Z" which pointed toward efforts to build its own games publishing platform as well as wean its reliance on external social networks including Facebook.

Expected to be officially launched later this month, the new Zynga.com platform is currently available in beta. Gamers can start playing five of the company's existing titles, and create their own profiles and connect with other players outside of Facebook via the "zFriends" network.

Zynga also announced it partnered with three game developers to create and promote their titles which will be available on the new platform, giving them access to 240 million monthly active Zynga users. It will eventually be available to all third-party developers through an API (application programming interface) later this year, the company said.

"Publishing on the Zynga Platform will allow developers to tap a captive audience of players who love to play social games," Rob Dyer, head of platform partners at Zynga, said in the same statement.

The company said its platform will remain "totally integrated" with Facebook as an extension of both companies' "strong and collaborative partnership". It added that players can continue to log in with the Facebook ID and play games with existing Facebook friends.

Thursday's announcement marks a major step for Zynga to lower its dependence on Facebook. Investors had expressed concerns about game developer's revenue and business model after it went public last December, and saw its shares dip below its initial stock price of US$10 on the first day of trading on Nasdaq.

After unveiling Zynga.com, the company's shares went up by 10 percent to US$14.48, according to Reuters.


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